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Another flawed Office update tells users to buy the suite

Gregg Keizer | Sept. 20, 2013
Breaks file associations in Office 2010 Starter Edition; some customers smell conspiracy

"The operating system has lost the association between a file type and the application that it is supposed to open it," said the Office team. "This does not change the file, this only affects the relationship between the operating system and the applications associated with the documents."

The company showed users how to reestablish file associations, but warned that in some cases customers may need to repair Office 2010 Starter Edition using the "Uninstall or change a program" Control Panel tool.

Yesterday's admission by Microsoft was just the latest in a string of update snafus the company's dealt with this month. Last week, an Office 2013 stability and performance update blanked the folder pane in Outlook 2013, and other updates repeatedly demanded they be installed even though they had already been deployed by users.

Those followed buggy fixes shipped in August and April that blocked access to server-based email mailboxes and crippled Windows 7 PCs.

The trend in declining quality has set patch professionals on edge, and has caused many to call for Microsoft to get its act together.

Microsoft has been publicly apologetic at times, but has not said specifically what it will do to prevent flawed updates in the future. "I apologize again for the difficulty this has created," wrote Gray Knowlton, a principal group program manager for Office, on the mailing list, or listserv. "We are aware and are doing all we can to get this set right now and for future releases."

Susan Bradley, a moderator on the listserv who also writes a weekly column on patching for the "Windows Secrets" newsletter, and who last week emailed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer asking him to appoint a top executive to investigate the problems, had a suggestion for Knowlton and his firm.

"Enough is enough. Let's reboot this process and see what really is broken here," Bradley said on the listserv Tuesday. "Obviously there are testing issues (Exchange team admitted to not dogfooding that 2013 update), and just as importantly what appears to me to be a lot of communication issues."

Microsoft's next regularly-scheduled updates are to ship Oct. 8.

Microsoft web page
After a flawed update last week, some customers running Office 2010 Starter Edition were told they needed to purchase the full-fledged suite to open their files. (Image: Microsoft.)


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